Yet a Little While: spring semester 2019

I've never had much patience for Buttercup of The Princess Bride.  She names her horse "Horse," fails to recognize her True Love when he is (barely) wearing a mask (maybe it was the mustache?) and generally comes across as incompetent and shallow.

So I've always sort of ended up snorting at the line, "It was a very emotional time for Buttercup."  Seriously, your True Love is kidnapped by pirates and killed and it was a very emotional time?  C'mon girl, grow some depth.

However, this year I find myself saying a lot, "It is a very emotional time for Hannah," and that's about as well as I can generally describe it.  I am strongly wired for anticipation, which can be very enjoyable (I get a gleeful feeling looking at wrapped birthday gifts long before it's time to open them) and also awful when what I'm anticipating is of the leaving-a-place-and-people-and-job-I-love-and-moving-around-the-world-again variety.  The past semester was full of commingled joy and grief as I got to know new students and deepened relationships and soaked in the beauty of the golden gingko trees and the foothill mountains of the range that leads up to the Tibetan plateau, and as I pondered that next fall, I won't be back.

This semester it feels real that I'm leaving.  I don't have my plane ticket yet (it's weird to say plane ticket, not tickets -- this time when I leave, I won't have a return visa in my passport,) but we've been told what week we're giving finals.  This past weekend we looked at the entire semester's calendar written out on Gordon and Hui's whiteboard, brainstorming where to fit in city team meetings.
And just like that, it's over --  (Hamilton)
It isn't over yet, of course, but this is the Final Semester, and it feels surreal to be living it.

We often speak of the tension of living in the already-but-not-yet, and in seasons like this, I feel it strongly in my own life.  There are things to do in preparation for moving back to the US, things to be mindful of and keep striving for as I want to finish my time in China well and not to check out of my actual life.

There are still brand new experiences happening: two students getting in an actual fist fight in my classroom this past week for one.  There are dear friends coming to visit China in just less than a month -- their first time to see this place that I'm saying goodbye to.

There are tears and there's laughter.  There is learning and continuing to grow even as I work through my stockpiles of toilet paper, soap, chocolate, pasta.  There is hoping for the future of this place that I have loved so dearly and for the friends who will be staying here.  There is the usual nuttiness of spring semester, looking at all of the things that need to be done (and things that I want to do) and wondering how on earth they're going to fit in.  At least my taxes are filed.  It's exhausting and exciting and emotion-filled.

So yes, it is a very emotional time for me, and I'm not exactly wild about that.  When I watched Inside Out I resonated a bit too much with Joy -- I want to be exuberantly happy all of the time and it is a conscious area of growth in my life to admit that sometimes I'm sad, sometimes I'm angry, sometimes I am all of those things and, confusingly, also happy and content and sometimes those feelings persist for a long time in an unpredictable cycle of ebb and flow.

Last summer, as I was leaving the US, Susan texted me that I needed to listen to Jonathan Gabriel Masters' album The Spirit and the Bride and she was, as usual, correct.  His songwriting is hauntingly beautiful and Yet a Little While is the song I can't quit listening to, want to drink and breathe and live in this season.

Yet a little while
and I will call you by name
I will treat you the same
every brother

Yet a little while
and there'll be peace upon the earth
and you will fail to feel the hurt
or fear the darkness

Yet a little while and you will cry from the wilderness
you will prophesy and witness of My coming
Yet a little while and I'll make purpose of this plan of Mine
I've commandeered the land that you will settle into

Oh My child, let not your heart be troubled
I have come and I have gone to prepare a home for you
No My child, not like the one you've come to know
All so dark and dead and cold and unforgiving

Oh My child, there's not a force upon the earth
that could bring death to such rebirth as I have clothed you in
Oh My child, come rest your head up on high
where love abounds and all is light 
but you can't see
Can you see?

Yet a little while and you will claim the victory
because your tragedy retreated at the sound of My voice
hear Me say that
I have come to give you life and give it full
all of your burdens I have loaded on My back
on My shoulders...

(You can listen here.)


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